Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck: Electoral Autocracy

(Venezuelan Case) 30.11.2016–14.01.2017

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Redwash Plan, 2012. From the series Electoral Autocracy
Washing machine instruction manual marked by original owner and vintage plastic map
29 x 36 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck & Media Farzin
Standard Creole with Bikini, 1940s. From the series Modern Entanglements, U.S. Interventions, 2006-2009
Custom framed C-print and wall label
Installation dimensions 92,7 x 195 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Exhibition View, Electoral Autocracy, Galerie Martin Janda, 2016
Photo: Markus Wörgötter

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Nostalgic Apparatus, Caracas: Heaven’s branch on earth, 1998. Installation view at Galerie Martin Janda, 2016
Photo: Markus Wörgötter

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
North Silhouette: Cableway Fragment. Humboldt Planetarium, circa 1960. Nostalgic Apparatus, Caracas: Heaven’s branch on earth, 1998
Custom framed archival pigment print
107 x 143 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Love Washing Machine made in the People's Republic of China, 2012-2016. From the series Electoral Autocracy
400 rubber-stamped pamphlets, polyester thread, UV printed Alu-Dibond, wood and metal parts
230 x 288 x 288 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Love Washing Machine made in the People's Republic of China, (detail) 2012-2016. From the series Electoral Autocracy
400 rubber-stamped pamphlets, polyester thread, UV printed Alu-Dibond, wood and metal parts
230 x 288 x 288 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Merchandise Exhibition - First class - 1965. Modern Entanglements, U.S. Interventions, 2015
Photo: def image
25,8 x 32,5 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
2 corrupted files from page 12, [m6], 2006−2008. From the series Los Manolos, Plan Caracas No. 2, 1974-1976
Archival pigment print from faulty scanner. Diasec mounting on aluminum
151 x 113 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
2 corrupted files from page 9, [m2], From the series 'Los Manolos, Plan Caracas No. 2, 1974-1976', 2006-2008
152 x 114 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Exhibition View, Galerie Martin Janda, 2016
Photo: Markus Wörgötter

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Corrupted file from page 20, [m14], 2006−2008 From the series Los Manolos, Plan Caracas No. 2, 1974-1976
Giclée from faulty Scanner on Hahnemühle Fine Art Paper, mounted on acrylic and dibond
151 x 113 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
2 corrupted files from page 17, [m11], 2006-2008. From the series Los Manolos, Plan Caracas No. 2, 1974-1976
Archival pigment print from faulty scanner. Diasec mounting on aluminum
151 x 113 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck in collaboration with Ana Alenso
Homeland’s Agenda, (detail) 2016. From the series Electoral Autocracy
HDTV Monitor, lamp and digital player installed on supermarket cart; custom made seats; single channel HD video, stereo sound, Spanish with English subtitles
29 min, 122 x 148 x 102 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck in collaboration with Álvaro Sotillo & Aixa Díaz
2006, 2008. From the series Modern Entanglements
Self-Adhesive vinyl, pencil writing on wall and leaflet
Installation dimensions variable

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck in collaboration with Álvaro Sotillo & Aixa Díaz
2006, (detail) 2008. From the series Modern Entanglements
Self-Adhesive vinyl, pencil writing on wall and leaflet
Installation dimensions variable

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck in collaboration with Álvaro Sotillo & Aixa Díaz
2006, (detail) 2008. From the series Modern Entanglements
Self-Adhesive vinyl, pencil writing on wall and leaflet
Installation dimensions variable 

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Exhibition View, Galerie Martin Janda, 2016
Photo: Markus Wörgötter

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Rubber-stamp-me, 2012-2016. From the series Electoral Autocracy
Rubber stamp with golden “Made in China” sticker, ink-pad and exhibition literature on plinth
110 x 40 x 25 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Corrupted file from page 14, [v1], 2006−2008. From the series La Vega, Plan Caracas No. 1, 1974-1976
Digital C-Print from faulty Scanner, face mounted on UV acrylic and Dibond backing with wood stretcher and 'Z' bar
114 x 114 cm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
Corrupted file from page 14, [v1], 2006−2008. From the series La Vega, Plan Caracas No. 1, 1974-1976
Digital C-Print from faulty Scanner, face mounted on UV acrylic and Dibond backing with wood stretcher and 'Z' bar
114 x 114 cm

Opening: Tuesday, 29 November 2016, 7 pm
Exhibition runs: 30.11.–14.01.2017
Opening hours: Tue–Fri, 11 am–6 pm, Sat 11 am–4 pm

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck frequently engages in a research-based practice that confronts cultural, political, and socioeconomic subjects. His works directly comment on, question, and provide specific definition to our perceptions of power. In Electoral Autocracy, his third solo exhibition at the gallery, Balteo-Yazbeck combines previously existing and recent works to broadly examine the chaos of his home country, probing the problematical historic narratives that bring us to our present.

Currently, Venezuela is in the most precarious of national circumstances – it is moving ever closer to decidedly acute, widespread, and violent revolt. This social, economic, and political turmoil has recurring tendencies, influenced to a large degree by the real or perceived accomplishments of the previous or current political regimes.

In the photo-series Nostalgic Apparatus (1998), Balteo-Yazbeck confronts the achievements of past dictatorships – specifically that of the architectural contributions to Caracas in the 1950’s. Here, we see the silhouette of a newly modernized capital city, installed as a panorama on the lower section of the Humboldt Planetarium’s projection dome. The wonders of rapid progress acts as propaganda, and serves as certain homage to the exploits and successes of a previous administration.  At times of unrest, this problematic history can have a considerable effect on political thought – in reaction to widespread disarray, the population became nostalgic for the military dictatorship of the 1950’s that greatly transformed Venezuela through vast infrastructure and building projects. This lead to a sentimental longing for a return to a ‘progressive’ past – whether this was authoritarian did not matter. The notion that the past supplants the present can and has been utilized as a powerful emotional and sociological tool. This, of course, has been proven in recent elections and referenda in Russia, Poland, Britain, and the USA, illustrating the ubiquity of instrumentalized nostalgia. 

Not unlike other works in the exhibition, the video installation Homeland’s Agenda (2016) takes preexisting material and re-contextualizes its content to create new definitions and alternative understanding.  Balteo-Yazbeck and his collaborator on this project, Ana Alenso, have followed Venezuelan social media for a number of years – this activity is born out of necessity as self-exiled Venezuelan artists to maintain certain types of connection. What we can understand in this work is the great influence of technology in its ability to create agency and to produce and circulate political speech, whether it takes the form of testimonies or manufactured propaganda. This work also provides direct visibility and access to an audience that may be unable to dive directly into the complex Venezuelan experience. In this way, the Internet allows for non-hierarchical circulation of information, a phenomenon also observed in other revolutionary processes occurring in places such as Eastern Europe and the Middle East. 

Through a calculated and thoughtful installation of all of the included works, Electoral Autocracy provides a glimpse of the countless examples, circumstances and events that have brought Venezuela to its current political state. Through this, we may begin to see what possible futures lay ahead after indulging in the complicated and dangerous mix of nostalgia and authoritarian leadership.

Text: Kris Douglas